When one considers the possibility of finding “love” on the Internet, here is something to consider. Imagine that the Internet is an actual physical location. If the Internet was a building, for example, then about 90% of its wall space would be covered with graffiti. This graffiti would be advertising mostly pornography, illegal drugs and get-rich-quick scams. Most people inside the building would be wearing masks to hide their actual identities. To be fair, most of these people are not considering evil intentions. But some are. They fall into the categories of hackers, scammers and identity thieves.
Does this sound like the best place to meet the partner of your dreams?
Dating scams on the Internet are as old as the advent of the Internet, itself. The average Internet user is wary of scams that begin with. “I am a Prince from Nigeria”. While this is obviously a “419 identity theft fraud”, there are those that continue to be fooled. How is it then that we find people who are willing to fall for Internet dating scams?
One of the more recent trends in identity theft presents itself as a chance at true love. This trend is being facilitated by the growing acceptance of online romance. This has presented an excellent opportunity for scammers to access personal information such as PINs, etc. These criminals are known to operate from various online dating sites. Their prey consists mostly of those who are unaware that they are being duped by fraudsters from various European and West African countries.
An Internet Identity Theft Dating Scam will operate in a very similar fashion to a standard “Nigerian 419” scam. These scams are particularly prevalent in countries where this sort of crime is not prosecuted. The scam begins with the creation of a fake online profile. These profiles will contain photos of attractive women or men. Not overly attractive – but reasonably attractive. At this point, the scammers will begin their search for a victim by trolling literally thousands of online dating profiles. Identical emails will be sent to these profiles in order to find their victim. The only difference between this scam and much older dating scams is the use of email instead of the older “snail mail”. The creation of an online personality also lends more authority to the scam.
When a response to the fraudulent profile is received, a bond is quickly established. The hallmark of this type of scam is an intense first week of getting the victim to “fall in love”. It is during this period, that a request for a small amount of money is made. The request will seem to come up as part of the natural conversation. It might contain a mention of a cell phone that is going to be cut off (for any ridiculous reason). Asking for, say, $40 is not much and the victim may readily send it. But as the scam progresses, the money amounts will increase.
One of the greatest fears of those who use the Internet is identity theft. However, the Internet is one of the most effective ways to steal an identity. Since personal information can be kept online, incidents of identity theft are on the upswing. Scammers from foreign countries may wish to use a stolen identity for the purpose of obtaining a fake passport. Others want to open up fraudulent accounts in the victim’s name.
A recent news report, from Philadelphia, indicated that an Indian national has confessed to stealing the identity of three women. These women had been initially contacted through various online dating websites. Information was used by Jaitass Dhanoa, 33, to open up fraudulent credit card accounts. Those accounts were used to run up charges amounting to many thousands of dollars.
Of course, not all people who can be found on online romance sites are scammers. However, you need to keep an eye out for some tell tale scamming signs.
First of all, it helps quite a bit just to know how these scams work. Just being aware of a scam and ending communication is the best way to avoid any problems. The first big red flag is when the scammer asks for money – no matter what the amount. Small amounts are used to “test the waters” – so beware.
In addition, never give out any personal information that involves finances or passwords. This is especially true of credit card numbers that can be stolen on fraudulent websites. These fake websites may be hosted by the same criminals that are posing as romantic interests. So refrain from being led to any URLs where a “bill” can be paid for a bogus romantic partner.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of online dating scams is to avoid them altogether. This is especially true for those who may be inclined to fit the description of “love addict”.